Canada: Suncor probed over Transocean Barents rig spill

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) has begun an investigation following a synthetic-based mud (SBM) spill from the Suncor-operated Transocean Barents rig in the Atlantic Ocean.

C-NLOPB said on Tuesday that it issued a notice of non-compliance to Suncor Energy and began a formal investigation regarding the incident. The Board issued an incident bulletin following the discharge of 28,000 liters of SBM into the environment on April 27.

Drilling operations were initially suspended by Suncor while it investigated the cause of the discharge. The C-NLOPB authorized Suncor to resume drilling operations with the Transocean Barents on May 3.

The Board staff were satisfied with the responsive steps that Suncor took to that point in time and, upon review of material presented, estimated that the incident was not the result of equipment failure and that Suncor’s corrective procedural measures allowed for the resumption of operations.

On May 11, Suncor provided its preliminary incident investigation report to the C-NLOPB. Based on the information regarding the incident provided in the report, the Board issued a notice of non-compliance to Suncor.

“Pursuant to subsection 160(1) of the federal Accord Act the discharge of SBM constitutes a spill. It is the finding of the C-NLOPB’s chief conservation officer, based upon a review of the Suncor preliminary incident investigation report, that a spill occurred contrary to subsection 161(1) of the Accord Act,” the Board said.

The C-NLOPB also began its own formal investigation based upon these findings. This matter will remain open until the Board reviews findings of the C-NLOPB Enquiry Team investigation and decides whether further enforcement action is warranted.

As part of the notice of non-compliance, the Board notified the operator that further incidents of non-compliance could prompt the C-NLOPB to consider additional enforcement measures including suspension or revocation of the operator’s authorization and/or initiation of prosecution.

According to C-NLOPB, the Transocean Barents is currently located at the Terra Nova field, some 350 kilometers southeast from St. John’s.